Hey, It's Jade!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Oh boys!

This is a more accurate look at a "Day in the life..." at my house. Lol!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My First Hands-On Bible from Tyndale House Review

My First Hands-On Bible is adorable from cover to cover.  This is a New Living Translation written to make sense for young children.  Besides the Bible stories, the book contains two new friends, Pockets the kangaroo and Cuddles the lamb.  The presence of these two friends throughout the Bible, lead you and your children through prayer and fun activities to help bring home the message in each story. 

As you read the Bible story to your children, you'll find little hand prints after each paragraph or so.  These hand print images correspond with an action or activity to do with your child.  For example, after the text "The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters," the hand print gives you the suggestion to "Cover your eyes for a few seconds and imagine what the earth was like."  It helps you bring the story to life and makes the Bible interactive for your children!
Wonderful illustrations!
Both of my children (5 years old and 18 months old) enjoyed hearing the stories and doing the actions from this version of the Bible.  The brief, meaningful passages kept their attention and they were continually interested in what God had to say next!  I plan on integrating this Bible into our daily First Grade homeschool curriculum, as something that my little one can join us for!  This book would make a great gift for any pre-schooler!  Or to use with your own children to keep them interested in learning more about God!

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Women of Faith: Over the Top - Yes, It Was!!!

I had my first experience with a Women of Faith event this weekend in Dallas.  And let me tell you, it WAS "Over The Top!"  "Over The Top" was the theme, so I guess I should have expected it, however, I really, quite honestly... didn't.  My dear friend, Candi, and I arrived on Friday morning not really knowing what to expect.  And we were both completely blown away, and plan to be right back there next year for sure!

During the Friday morning/afternoon sessions we heard from Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews.  I was not familiar with Patsy, but it didn't take long to fall in love with this "tiny" woman.  She was so adorable, so funny, and so right on with everything she spoke about.  She spoke about how God can use the broken and shattered pieces of our lives (like glass) and turn it into something beautiful for His light to shine through (like a stained-glass artwork).  I previously read and reviewed The Noticer, written by Andy Andrews, so I was a bit familiar with his story telling.  However, I was not prepared for his complete ADD personality.  He was all over the stage and audience, he wasn't still for more than a few seconds at the time, he was EVERYWHERE!  But yes, he is a wonderful storyteller for sure!  Candi and I had our lunch break outside at Victory Plaza, right in front of WFAA Channel 8's studio... and got to see them doing the 12 'o' clock news!  After lunch we heard from both Patsy and Andy again, which was a real treat.  Patsy reminded us of things like "Your will is stronger than your emotions!"  and "Feelings don't have brains!"  and urged us to minimize our word counts, trying hard not to speak for the wrong reasons.  Andy told us a story reflecting the butterfly effect of how your life can have such an impact - and you don't even know it!

When I returned home that afternoon, I found out that a friend that was going to go with me to the evening session had a bad migraine and couldn't go (Candi wasn't able to go with me again that evening).  I was hot and tired and feeling rushed, trying to get dinner on the table for my husband and kids, and I had pretty much made up my mind I wouldn't go back.  As we were eating, my husband suddenly said, "You should take Vasha with you tonite!"  Now, I had already pretty much talked myself out of going (ok, the Devil had pretty much talked me out of going, I should say!) and well, I don't know Vasha all that well, we've never done anything one-on-one, but I figured I'd text her, see if she could go. Super late notice, super random invitation coming from someone like me... but she accepted!  Really?  Um, ok.  So, I rushed out the door to pick her up.  I left my house at 6:05pm, the event started at 7pm.  I knew we'd be late... I'd have to go pick her up, then fight Friday evening Dallas traffic to get to the AAC, find a parking place, etc.  I have to tell you, that God is so amazing!!  We walked in and sat in our seats as the countdown hit 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  I'm not evening kidding!  Right then I knew that God wanted me there.  There's no other explanation as to how we could have pulled that off otherwise.  No traffic, no parking trouble, absolutely everything clicked into place and God provided us with an evening that we BOTH needed!  We heard Lisa Whelchel speak about friendship.  And Mandisa poured her heart, and tears, out leading us in worship.  It was perfect.  I'm so glad that I said "YES!" to God as Patsy Clairmont had advised earlier that afternoon!  He really does bless those that do!

The next morning, Candi and I arrived again and readied our hearts for a full day of blessing.  And it came!  We heard from Patsy again, including the story of her son fighting H1N1.  Then Brenda Warner spoke, and she has an amazing testimony... I can't wait to read and review her book (yay!).  We also heard from Sandi Patty (both singing and speaking).  There was drama with the lovely, talented Katherine Everett and a precious mini-concert with Amy Grant.  Love her!  She even took requests in the middle of her set when she was stalling for "what to do next."  And lastly, we heard from Marilyn Meberg.  She was hilarious and again, right on track!  These were some of the best speakers I've heard... I was really touched and blessed and moved by each one!  Mary Graham was the emcee and the Women of Faith Worship Team was sooooo good!  If you have the opportunity to attend a Women of Faith event, DO IT!  You will not regret it, I promise!  I can't wait til the next chance I have!!!



I would like to thank BookSneeze for sending me, as a blogger, to this event.  I couldn't have gone on my own, and I know that God totally moved to allow me to attend and benefit from it.  Thank you for being that catalyst!  Also, thanks to my mom and amazing husband, Michael, for watching the boys so I could pretty much be absent all weekend, basking in God's glory!  And I'm so glad I was able to share this experience with my friends, Candi and Vasha.  Thank you for being willing to go, and I pray you got just as much out of it as I did!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, August 26th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Summer Edition, a link-up with The Homeschool Chick.

In my life this week...
- Last weekend I had THREE Usborne events, so I've spent a lot of this week follow up with the people I met there.  Lots of phone calls and emails.  Have been receiving some good feedback and I get really excited when other people get excited about these books!
- A sweet woman I met on a homeschool message board sent me a box full of cloth diapers.  I know Callen is already nearly 18-months and he's actually already showing signs of wanting to start the first stages of potty training, but this will be good training for next time (whenever that is.  No, I'm not pregnant, thanks!). I am really looking forward to figuring out the tricks and folds and benefits!!!

In our homeschool this week...
- Preston finished both of his summer workbooks, A Reason for Handwriting "A" and Super Deluxe First Grade Scholar. He gets about two weeks of break and then we'll officially kick off First Grade with My Father's World.  I'm stoked!

My favorite thing this week...
- Wednesday afternoon Michael came home and was all "Let's get outta here!"  We ended up at the mall, but it was such a great break from the house.  We walked the entire mall, trying to find Michael a decent pair of shoes (in our price range, ugh!) and came home empty-handed.  But it was still fun just being out with my family and spending time together doing something other than sitting around.  Lol.


I'm grateful for...
- The opportunity to go to Women of Faith this weekend!  And to get to go with my awesome friend, Candi makes it even better! I'll be tweeting throughout the event, so follow me: @heyjade. And I'll blog about it once I've recuperated from the weekend!  Thanks, again, BookSneeze for sending me!!!

People we're seeing...
- My mom came over twice this week to watch the boys for me.  Thanks, again, Mom!  So they got to spend some good time with Grandma.  My neighbor brought her daughter over for a little playdate on Thursday.

A video to share...
Israel Houghton strikes again. That guy can write a song, I tell you what! Lol. They do this one at my church, and then it's stuck in my head for a week! I posted this on my FB earlier this week, and YES it IS still stuck in my head. Now let it get stuck in yours!

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P.S. While you're here, do you mind "liking" my Usborne FB Page?  Thank you!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Read Aloud Thursday: August 25th

I recently found out about this weekly meme, called Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope Is the Word  (found it via Homegrown Learners, oh how I love my homeschool bloggers!).  I am excited to take part because I love reading aloud to my kids.  And also, I'd like to highlight some of the great Usborne Books & More titles I have to offer.  There are so many good ones available!!!

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Last week we started on Hank The Cowdog #6 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.  I'm telling you, my kid is on a Hank kick!  Sadly, we only have #7 and #11 in our collection left to go, so I'm hoping our library has some we can borrow so we don't get out of order!  This book is about Hank's misadventures trying to solve a case (aren't they all?!?)while feeling run down.  He thinks he might be dying, or at least gravely ill.  And there's even a slight possibility that HE'S the culprit!  What?!?  We'll have to keep reading to find out what happens!!! 

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And now a spotlight on an Usborne book we read this week: How Big Is A Million? This books is about an adorable little penguin called Pipkin!  He is on a quest to find out what a million looks like.  Well, have you ever seen a million of something?  Exactly.  So, he visits many animals friends and they show him things like "10" or "100," but will he find someone who is able to show him "1,000,000?"  Here's a hint: Yes!  And, included with this soft-covered book is a pull-out poster that shows you (yes, you guessed it!) ONE MILLION!  Now, I don't want to give away what you'll see... 'cause it's very exciting to find out for yourself.  But it's rather amazing to actually have something to look at that shows you exactly what one million looks like.  It's mind blowing!  Here's a peek inside of this book so you can see just how sweet the illustrations are!  Pipkin is a very curious penguin and is featured in several other Usborne books, including How Big Was a Dinosaur?, How Deep is the Sea? and How High is the Sky? and each of these books comes with a pull-out poster too! Check out my Usborne online store at www.HeyJadeBooks.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Done!

Finally done!
Preston has finished his two summer workbooks, A Reason for Handwriting - A and First Grade Scholar.  We are now school-free for two weeks!  We'll start MFW First Grade on Thursday, September 8th!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop: Day-in-the-Life Week

We aren't starting our "school year" until September 8th, so I really have no idea what our day will look like! I am going to do a quick run down of how I HOPE our day will go.  I know for a fact that I am being optimistic, but hey... a girl can dream!

6:15am  - I get up to help my husband get out of the house for work, then shower, get myself ready for the day, do emails and work stuff, blog write/read, facebook, etc.
8:00am   - Wake up Preston (the First Grader!), let him watch cartoons.
8:30am   - Breakfast (wake up Callen if he isn't up already).  Boys get ready for day (dressed, etc).
9:15am   - Start school with Morning Board activities: Date, number of the day, weather.
- Workbox #1: Scripture activity (copy work, memorization, explanation)
- Workbox #2: Math activity (workbook pages, living math book or Pattern Animals)
- Workbox #3: Reading/Writing activity (phonics, 15-minute reading)
11:00am - Break, cartoons, run around.
12:00pm - Callen down for a nap. Workbox #4: Science activity (experiment, reading, exploration)
12:30pm - Lunch
1:00pm   - Quiet Time: Preston play quietly; Mommy work.
2:00pm   - Workbox #5: Hymn lesson/Art/Music/Spanish (depending on day of the week)
2:30pm   - School's out.

Some days, I imagine (and pray!), we will be done a lot earlier than 2:30.  And on some days we do more or less than other days so there won't really be any sort of set schedule (like, I won't suddenly go "It's 10:20, abandon this, start that!").  That's just another great thing about homeschool - if we all feel like sleeping in, we can!  If someone wants to come over and play, sweet!  If I need to work on a weekday morning, no problem!  Being flexible is the name of the game!

I am still not 100% sure what I'll be doing with Callen during the school times.  I will try to bring out things to occupy him and keep him from being a distraction - but stuff that he enjoys and learns from too.  He will want to be in the middle of whatever the action is, of course.


Visit more of the fun "Day-in-the-Life Week" posts from the Not Back to School Blog Hop, hosted by Heart Of the Matter Online.

Urge to Purge

Dear Blogosphere,
     I love you.  I really do.  But I'm gonna need you to stop putting out such creative, inspiring, interesting, informative and hilarious blog posts.  I can't take it anymore.  My RSS Reader is on the verge of exploding, as it simply cannot contain the awesomeness that is... you.  I have stuff to do, but you draw me in... I click from one blog to another to another and before I know it, I've wasted what was supposed to be productive work time (and oh, what's that?  the baby's awake now, oops, plans completely foiled). 
     You see, I am a naturally curious person.  Ok, you can say nosey if you really want to.  I eavesdrop.  I want to know the dirty details.  I want to know how you live, what you're thinking, what you're doing and how you're doing it.  I thank the Lord for blogging, twitter and facebook so I can know your every move without actually having to stalk you (it's much less tiresome - and illegal - when you, yourself, type it out for me to see!).
     But, enough is enough.  My mind is on overload.  And my time is limited.  I have too much to do and while you're terribly interesting and inspiring, I think we need to see less of each other.  I have got to purge the amount of blogs coming through my feed everyday, all day.  Obviously, I'm not going cold turkey... I need that constant source of creative juice flowing out of some of you!  I want to know what's up in your life (y'know, if I actually KNOW you in person!).  But, some of you... are going to have to go.  I'm sorry, and I hate to do it.  And the task that lay before me... of going through and deciding which of you to keep and which to delete, it's going to be difficult.  So, see, if you would just stop being so darn wonderful, I wouldn't have this problem, would I?  Could you just save me the trouble, and start posting really bad, dumb or irrelevant blog posts?  That'd be great, thanks!
                                                                                      With warm regards,
                                                                                                                             Jade =)

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P.S. I went through and organized my reader and I did purge a few of them that I wasn't ever reading.  And then... the next day... I found a whole new blog roll and subscribed to a whole bunch more.  I am hopeless.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, August 19th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Summer Edition, a link-up with The Homeschool Chick.

In my life this week...
- I recently posted about the intense heat and how I couldn't complain too much because our A/C works.  Well, Sunday... it didn't.  We were out nearly all day on Sunday and came home to it being 90-degrees inside our house at 9pm (it was also 90-degrees outside at the time!).  We quickly packed our bags and headed back over to the in-law's house to spend the nite.  There's NO way we could have slept in that.  Just the time we were there packing our bags, the kids' faces were flushed and everyone was a sweaty mess.  Thankfully the repair guys were out the next afternoon and it was an easy fix.  And thank the Lord we have a service agreement with them and it was all totally FREE!  Praise Jesus!  So we are back to "cool" here in the house.  Whew. 

My favorite thing this week...
- On Wednesday, I woke the boys up and we ran out of the house and down to the park.  It was cloudy and cool (y'know, like 85-degrees) and I wasn't about to miss an opportunity to get outside for a bit.  The minute the sun started peeking through the clouds, we ran back home!

I'm praying for...
- One of those opportunities I mentioned a few weeks ago to come to fruition.  I really want my husband to NOT have to drive pizza anymore.  Pretty please?  I don't wanna give too much information, but there is a chance of something else he can do for a 2nd job and it would be great if it worked out!  And I'm praying for more opportunities with my book business!

I'm grateful for...
- A mom who is willing to come babysit two rambunctious boys for many hours several times in a row AND let me borrow her car so I can go make some extra money!

People we're seeing...
- I am looking forward to this weekend because I will be very busy with my Usborne business, but also getting to do it with friends!!!  I'm doing a vendor fair Friday morning with my sponsor, Holly.  Setting up at my church's women's breakfast on Saturday morning and then Saturday afternoon doing a jam-making-and-book-party-thing with my buddy Candi!  Hoping these are successful events and lead to more successful events!

A video to share...


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P.S. While you're here, do you mind "liking" my Usborne FB Page?  Thank you!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Women of Faith: Over the Top Coming to Dallas!

"God loves us more than we know. He gives us more than we can ask or dream. He's unrestrained... excessive... outrageous... Over the Top."

Women of Faith has been a big event for quite a while now.  I've always heard about it and silently wished I could go to something like that.  Well, thanks to my sweet friends at BookSneeze, I get to go this year.  I'm so excited!  I get to tweet, facebook and blog the experience too!  So, if you're not going to be there in person, follow along with me!

The event is coming up next weekend, Friday and Saturday, August 26th and 27th, and is being held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.  Registration is still open, it's not too late for you to join me!  Speakers include Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meburg, Lisa Whelchel, Sandi Patty and Brenda Warner.  Musical guests are Mandisa and Amy Grant!

Here is a neat video to show you more about the conference:


I've never been to a conference of this caliber, so it's definitely going to be a new and interesting experience.  I'll be tweeting from @heyjade, you can follow me throughout the day and see what God is doing!  I'll be posting another blog after the event to tell you all about it!  The Women of Faith team will also be present on their social media sites, so you can follow them as well:  @womenoffaith (#wofott) and  www.facebook.com/womenoffaith.

Honestly, I'm just praying I don't bawl the entire time I'm there.  Lol!

Read Aloud Thursday: August 18th

I recently found out about this weekly meme, called Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope Is the Word  (found it via Homegrown Learners, oh how I love my homeschool bloggers!).  I am excited to take part because I love reading aloud to my kids.  And just the other day I was asking my friends on Facebook what they are reading aloud to THEIR kids.  And I also, I'd like to start highlighting some of the great Usborne Books & More titles I have to offer.  There are so many good ones available!!!  So, this is perfect for me!

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We finished up Hank The Cowdog #5 Faded Love early this week, and will be starting on #6 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie soon enough.  We don't get many days in between Hanks, that's for sure.  Preston won't allow it!  He read a book to me last nite, though.  It's called How to Catch a Star, written by Oliver Jeffers.  This is a book about a little boy that dreams of catching a star to have as a best friend, but his plans are foiled by logistics.  The star is really high up there!  He tries to recruit a sea gull for help, attempts to lasso it with a heavy life preserver and other such brilliant ideas, but to no avail.  I won't give away the end, but I will tell you that this is a really cute book.  The illustrations are lovely, and the little boy's ideas are intriguing and humorous.  My son loves this one!

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And now a spotlight on an Usborne book we read this week: The Wizard of Oz! This book is probably a lot more like the original story written by L. Frank Baum, because it doesn't follow closely to the movie we all know and love.  That made it actually more interesting to my 5-yr-old because he is pretty familiar with the movie, and he was surprised each time something I read wasn't what he remembered!  It kept him on his toes!  This book is hardback, but paperback sized, and the illustrations often take up the entire page to make it a really fun book to look at and read!  This book is part of the Usborne Young Reading Series Two books, which also includes Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Alice In Wonderland and other great classics retold!  Usborne has a fantastic Reading Program with many different levels of books!  Check out my Usborne online store at www.HeyJadeBooks.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Precious

Poptart breakfast picnic & park time!
We took advantage of the clouds and cooler weather this morning!  It was about 85degrees at 8:30, so I woke up the boys, got 'em dressed and herded them out for a breakfast picnic and some playground time!  Those clouds lasted just over an hour and so did we.  The boys had a great time playing with a couple of sisters there with their dad.  Callen decided he LOVED the slides and would just charge down them all by himself!  Wow, big boy!  And on the way home, Preston held my hand across the street... but forgot to let go.  He held my hand all the way home.  I love these precious moments with my boys!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop: Student Photo Week

While we aren't starting our "school year" until September, I let Preston pose with his "First Grader" sign* anyway.
"I'm a First Grader!"
Preston is 5 years old, and will be 6 in December.  So, technically (according to public school standards), he should be going into Kindergarten this year... but he was reading by 4 and when I went over all the Pre-K stuff we would cover last year, he had it all down already.  No use boring him, so we moved up to Kindergarten (one of the many beauties of homeschool!).  So, here we are... First Grade!  Wow. 

Little Brother!
Callen will be 18-months old when we start school in a few weeks.  Last year he was great about hanging out in his high-chair or sleeping a lot through the day so he wasn't much distraction.  This year, though... oh boy, we're gonna be in for it!  He is not content to sit still for very long, and he wants to be ON the table when we're sitting at it... definitely gonna be a new experience trying to keep a little one wrangled and a bigger one focused.  I don't know how all of you homeschool moms of 10 do it (major props to you!).  I want to do fun, educational activities with him as well, so hopefully I can find my groove!

So, there you have it... my students:
workbook
computer
Visit more of the fun "Student Photo Week" posts from all the amazing homeschool bloggers taking part in the Not Back to School Blog Hop, hosted by Heart Of the Matter Online.

My "School Room" post.
My Curriculum post.

*The First Grade sign came from here, she has one for most grades... super cute!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cards for a Cause Fundraiser


Friday, August 12, 2011

Tastes from Home with Frito-Lay Recipe & Giveaway (Closed)

#8 is the winner!
We have a winner!  Congratulations to Jessica, who said: "I like Frito's barbecued corn chips!"  Jessica, I have emailed you, please respond by Wednesday to claim your prize.

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Ok, if you live in the South, you are probably familiar with Frito-Pie.  My mouth waters just typing those words.  Frito-Pie was a staple at my house growing up.  It's quick, easy, delicious and filling.  Ok, it's not healthy, but... what real home-style comfort food is?  The recipe my mom used to make this tummy warming meal was simple, nothing you couldn't easily recreate.  But, simple isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Especially in this case!

Frito-Pie Ingredients:
- 1 bag of Fritos
- 1 can of chili
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Chopped onion

You can combine these four ingredients any which way you choose in your own bowl, but my favorite was always to have a layer of Fritos, a layer of cheese and onion, add warm chili and then top off with another layer of cheese and onions.  I like mine cheesy and onion-y!  If you REALLY wanna make it Texas-style, though, you can add sliced jalapenos for an extra kick!  Yee-haw!

Back in the day, we used to get Frito-Pie at the high school football stadium concession stand.  They'd open a bag of individual-sized Frito chips, pour the chili and cheese right into that bag and hand you a fork.  Yes sir!  No reason to make it any more complicated than that!

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Frito-Lay recently came out with some new varieties for their Lay's Chips, featuring regionally inspired flavors!  We have tried Chipotle Ranch, and it has some delicious spice to it!  What can I say?  I'm from Texas, I like my food to bite back!  And for that reason I'd like to try to the Cajun Herb & Spice.  The Garden Tomato & Basil also sounds like it'd be mighty tasty too!  Which one looks good to you?

Giveaway!
Would you like to try some of these new Lay's flavors?  Frito-Lay is providing me with a variety pack of Lay's Regionally Inspired Flavors potato chips to give away to one of my readers.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me which of the Frito-Lay varieties is your favorite!  It can be old favorite or one of the brand new ones!  Make sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.  Comments must be left by Friday, August 19th, 11:59pm.  Winner will be chosen using random.org, announced on Monday, August 22nd and notified by email, and have 48-hours to respond.

[Disclaimer: Frito-Lay provided me with chips to give away and this blog post was written as a form of entry into a contest for Frito-Lay prizes.  The opinions stated above are my own.]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Read Aloud Thursday: August 11th

I recently found out about this weekly meme, called Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope Is the Word  (found it via Homegrown Learners, oh how I love my homeschool bloggers!).  I am excited to take part because I love reading aloud to my kids.  And just the other day I was asking my friends on Facebook what they are reading aloud to THEIR kids.  And I also, I'd like to start highlighting some of the great Usborne Books & More titles I have to offer.  There are so many good ones available!!!  So, this is perfect for me!

Both last week and this week we have been off our regular routine, so Preston has been getting to bed later than usual.  That means we haven't done our nightly reading regularly and are still reading Hank The Cowdog: Faded Love.  We are about to finish it, though.  Which means we'll be moving on to the next one!

[image from Amazon.com]
When I was attempting to rearrange the kitchen a bit to help accommodate our homeschool needs, I decided to make the two bottom shelves of our hutch for the baby.  'Cause, well... he is gonna get into whatever is there anyway, might as well be his.  On one shelf I put a box of his big Duplo Legos, and on the other shelf I brought in a bunch of his little board books.  He's been enjoying making a giant mess of both these past few days.  But earlier I caught Preston reading one of the books to his little brother.  So precious!  They were reading I'd Be Your Hero, a sweet story of a little boy telling his mama all about how he would be a good hero using scripture to reinforce godly character traits.

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And now a spotlight on an Usborne book we read this week: The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales! This is actually a collection of 20 Farmyard Tales that are also sold individually!  It contains stories about a sweet family and some pretty special animals, including Curly The Pig, Wooly The Sheep and Rusty The Dog.  This particular edition of the book comes with a CD that features a man reading the stories in a soothing, English accent and has sounds effects and music to go right along!  Another great benefit of this book is that it can be used it multiple ways.  There is a line of the story that runs along the top of each page, and then more at the bottom of each page.  The lines at the top tell a complete story if read alone, and the lines at the bottom add detail.  So it can be a short story or a long story.  Or, your child can read the top line and you can read the bottom part!  This, like a lot of Usborne books, features a little duck hiding on each page - which makes it a lot of fun for little ones who love to play hide and seek!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homeschool Swap: July-August '11

The Homeschool Post does a Homeschool Swap every couple of months.  It's a pretty simple idea, send a fellow homeschool mom some goodies, she sends some to you and in the mean time you get to know each a little better, send each other encouraging emails or whatever.  You get paired up based on a survey you fill out, and the peeps over at The Post try to match you up as best they can.  They did a swell job this time around, as my partner Becky and I had a lot in common!  I was excited as I read over her answers and compared them to my own.  Now, there were many differences, as in ... she lives in Canada, I'm in Texas; she has 7 kids, I have 2.  But, the commonalities were great: we're both going to be using MFW curriculum this year with our kids, we both love cows, we both are mainly t-shirt and jeans girls, and we both love Jesus!

I had a blast picking out things for Becky and her crew.  I really hope she likes them!  Here's a picture of what I sent her:
It included: an adorable owl pencil pouch, mini dry-earse makers, notepads, Texas Turtle Coffee, lip balm and some little goodies for her kiddos.

I received my package from Canada and got all giddy just opening it.  Haha.  Ok, well, you know how much I love receiving stuff in the mail already!  Here's what she sent me!
Love all the stamps on there!
Oooh, what's in here?!?

It included: candles, lip balm, candy, gum, hair clips, mini dry-erase markers, Canada napkins and a keychain, notecards and tiny nailfiles.  So fun!!!

Thank you, Becky, for the wonderful goodies!!!  Everything was just perfect.  It's been a pleasure getting to know you, and I can't wait to compare notes on our MFW experiences!!!

Looking forward to the next Homeschool Swap, coming up in September!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Room Week

We aren't starting our "school year" until September, so our "school room" isn't completely finished yet.  I have to admit that I look at pictures of other people's actual homeschool classrooms and I get so jealous.  I wish I had the extra space.  I wish I had the extra money to outfit that extra space.  I wish.  I wish.  But, God has blessed me with the opportunity to be home with my children, and the calling to homeschool them.  And so I'm going to make the best of what we DO have!  A homeschool classroom is really your home, your backyard, your trip to the grocery store - it doesn't matter what the area you work in looks like, children can learn anywhere if they are properly guided!  Yes, I'm just going to keep telling myself that as I gaze longingly at all the other blog posts in this linkup.  Lol!

We do the majority of our school work at our kitchen table.

It is usually a cluttered mess when we're in the midst of our school day, but I *try* to get it cleared off so we can eat our meals there or conduct other business in the area.

To the left of the table, I have our Morning Board and Pocket Chart, which currently has our daily schedule on it.
My Morning Board inspiration came from Mama Jenn, Confessions of a Homeschooler and Homeschool Creations, along with a few items that came with our MFW curriculum.  And I'm excited to get to do multiple things with the Pocket Chart, especially now that 1+1+1=1 has created some special printables for it!

To the right of the table, I have a kitchen hutch that houses my dishes, some collectibles and a lot of our school stuff.  My mom has some little organizer drawers that she is going to give me that are going to be great for stashing our supplies, and will hopefully keep my littlest out of the markers!  They are going to fit perfectly there in the middle area of the hutch so it will be much tidier!  We have some of our books and other bigger supplies in the cabinet below... along with our table cloths and some kitchen gadgets. The two bottom shelves there are kind of unusable at this point, because my toddler is... well, a toddler.  So, toys and bowls and all kinds of random stuff just ends up there at any given time.
I have a yellow milk crate that I keep books, drawing and writing paper and workbooks in so that they're nearby when I need to grab 'em. I'm considering getting a small bookshelf for right there, though.  If I can find one in my price range (ahem, free?).  Above that is our little shelf of workboxes.  They are magazine storage boxes, but they work well for what we need to have in our workboxes this year so far (and are much sturdier than the cereal boxes I turned into our workboxes last year)!  Plus, they're brightly colored and pretty!  Above that shelf, I have some posters and helpful hints.

I have school supplies that we don't use on a daily basis stashed in several other places around the house, including my closet, Preston's closet and his bookshelf. Like I said, I'd like to get a small bookshelf to put in the kitchen that would hold some of those books so that they are at least in one place together.  But, we'll see.

Someday I would love to live in a house with extra space so that I could have a designated play room/homeschool room.  Oh yes, someday!  But for now, again, we will lovingly work with what we have while we have it! 

Visit more "School Room Week" posts from the Not Back to School Blog Hop, hosted by Heart Of the Matter Online.

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I had a major brain storm after I originally posted this, so I need to update already!  Lol.  I thought about it and realized that the cabinet I had beside my bed that I really just used as a nightstand would be a great addition to our "classroom" and would hold a lot of stuff!  So, I emptied it out, dragged it into the kitchen and it's a perfect fit.
The color of the wood doesn't really go and it's ooold, but it definitely serves the purpose I need it to!  By the way, my dad actually MADE this little cabinet when he was in high school... in shop or something.  My parents put it in a garage sale once but considering my dad made it, I decided to keep it for myself.  It has had many uses over the years, but I think this one is probably the BEST one yet!  I'm all excited because I was able to put the stuff that was being stored in my closet and Preston's in this cabinet and it's now where we need it when we need it.  Hooray!  I was able to clear off the top of the hutch so there is a place for the drawers my mom has for me.  Everything is suddenly clicking into place.  :::giddy dance::: (Of course, my husband hasn't seen this yet... hope he's ok with it! Lol!)

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Ok, another update!  I have added the organizer drawers, brought out our curriculum and everything is in it's place.  For now.  Lol.  I'm sure once we actually start school, I'll need to tweak a few things.  But here's what it looks like now...
I was able to get all of our little supplies into those drawers, use those two open shelves in the hutch for Callen stuff (since he'd be into it all anyway) like books and blocks, and get everything else into my dad's cabinet.  I was even able to clear out all of the school stuff from the bottom hutch cabinets so I can use those for kitchen items again.  Hooray!  All of the organizing today made me downright giddy.  AND I won a classroom pack from Mabel's Labels this afternoon that are going to work wonderfully with those clear organizer drawers.  Woo hoo!!!  It's definitely all coming together now!

Just life...

If things go as suspected, this Friday we'll be breaking the 1980 "heat wave" record, having more days over 100 degrees than EVER.  Oh, the joy.  Not.  Heat sucks the joy out of me.  Makes me cranky, sluggish and just plain un-fun.  Is it Fall yet?!?!

I've been so busy doing meme posts, that I haven't really posted much about every day life.  Callen is about to be 17 months old in a few days.  What a stinker!  His favorite past-time is climbing up on the kitchen table.  Or throwing the books off of the living room book shelf.  He's definitely a toddler!  Getting into everything, being a little booger... and looking adorable while doing it, of course.  It's a good thing they're cute, otherwise...  Anyway, he still adores his big brother... follows him around, attempts to copy his every move, calls for him if he happens to be out of sight.  The only thing he doesn't like about Preston is that Preston lovessss to hug.  Preston is my cuddly one, Callen... not so much.  He loves his brother, hates his brother's hugs.  Not sure what that's all about.  Haha.  The little one still only has eight front teeth.  No sign of any more to come.  His latest thing is to nod "yes" very deliberately when he means it.  He'll also shake his head no.  He has a lot of words, however we still can't get him to say "Callen."  Still working on that one.

Preston is doing very well with reading and writing.  When he sits and focuses on writing words, he can do an absolute perfect job!  He doesn't really like it, but he is getting better and better despite that.  We are still struggling with Preston's attitude and behavior.  We've been using the If-Then and Blessing Charts, and doing our best to stay consistent with him.  He just doesn't seem to learn his lesson no matter how hard we try to stick with a discipline.  We actually had a very serious incident last week where he ran away from his grandparents' house.  Pretty scary!  We had dropped the boys off on a Sunday afternoon so Michael and I could get some errands done, and upon returning we learned that while Preston and Grandpa had been outside playing after we left, Preston just started running down the sidewalk.  Grandpa followed and kept thinking he would stop so he could get caught up.  Only, he didn't.  And at one point after going around the block, Preston disappeared between some houses, so Grandpa lost track of him.  Grandpa cut through some houses and got back to his house to see if Preston had returned there, but he hadn't... so he went back out to look for him.  He found him at the end of the street, a lady had stopped in her car and was calling the cops because she had found a runaway child.  My son actually told the lady "I'm a runaway."  I am so very thankful that the lady that stopped was a NICE lady and didn't just snatch him and take off or something, I mean... the horrible things that could've happened blow my mind!  He crossed alleys and could have been hit by a car!  Just unreal.  I don't know what possessed him to do that, and he couldn't really give a straight answer.  I am still just in shock that it happened.

Other than the kids keeping me busy, I've been trying to get my Usborne business rolling.  I have my own domain now: HeyJadeBooks.com!  Did two parties on Saturday, and have a few more opportunities for various things lined up that I'm pretty excited about.  Also, I'm very excited that I'm joining a local homeschool group again.  I love the hs online community, but it makes such a difference to see and talk to people in person!  Michael is still working his two jobs.  This heat has been awful for him during the pizza job, poor guy.  He still has a great attitude about it, though... very proud of him for that.  He still gets the migraines on a continuous basis and has back and hip problems... so, he's kind of a mess, but he works through it and does his best to keep us sustained!  We just celebrated his 33rd birthday this weekend... old man!  Haha.  Oh, and we officially joined Grace Fellowship Church as members on Sunday, as well. 

Anyway, that's about it from here.  We're basically just waiting for the weather to cool off so we can breathe again!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Weight Shedding Challenge, Post 4 (of 12)

I have joined up with some other ladies at The Homeschool Lounge in this Summer weight-loss challenge. I have found that when I have a specific challenge or a real goal and someone to be accountable to, I can do much better! My goal is to lose around 25 pounds.  The challenge lasts 12 weeks, ending on October 7th.

Uhhhhh.  I suck.  Lol.  I don't know if it's me or my scale.  My husband and I have speculated for years now that our scale is wrong... or at least dumb.  I know, I know... suuuurrrre, blame the scale.  It's frustrating.  Either the scale went nuts (which is possible because my son was playing with it the other day), ORRRRR, my body is crazy.  I weighed myself on Friday morning and it showed I was up four pounds.  FOUR?!  What the hey?  This morning, though, it showed I was up to my original starting place for this challenge.  I choose to believe this morning's reading because... it's not as bad, of course!  But I have to admit that I have not been active.  I keep saying I want to be, but I just don't do it.  Besides chasing down my kids through the house and going back and forth with laundry or picking up toys... I am not up to much.  I have the (convenient) excuse of it being 112 degrees outside - I mean, what can I do about that?  I could get the kids up early, try to figure out a way to walk with them to get exercise, but honestly... that does not seem likely.  Preston cannot keep up, gets tired 5-minutes in, can't ride his bike very well... his options are strictly limited.  I can't put them both in the stroller.  My hands are tied.  Yes, convenient excuses... I know.  I obviously don't want to lose weight as bad as I say I do.  Perhaps I should just wait until Fall to really put some effort into it.  Or I could just stop shoving food into my mouth now.  Hmm...

My goal this week is: Stop shoving food into my mouth without thinking.

The great thing about being on WW was that I had to think about and record every single thing I ate.  That really puts things into perspective, and you start going "I don't want to admit to eating this, so I'm not going to!"  I guess I should start recording my food intake and it'd challenge me to make better choices. 


7/15 - 24 pounds to go
7/22 - 23 pounds to go
7/29 - 23 pounds to go
8/05 - 24 pounds to go

Previous Summer Weight Shedding Challenge post can be found here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, August 5th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Summer Edition, a link-up with The Homeschool Chick.

In my life this week...
- The heat has been intense in this part of the world. We've had a few 110-degree days this week and have been over 100 for more than 30 days in a row now.  It's stifling and makes me depressed.  We got out and played at sunrise one day this week and after dark a few times, but there's just nothing you can do to escape it. The kids are bouncing off the walls with energy and I'm not doing a good job of giving them ways to express it.  We are going about our daily business with as many lights off as possible, all of the curtains pulled tight, fans blowing, A/C unit doing it's best to keep up with the heat index.  I know that I can't complain too much, because our system WORKS, and I am not out in the heat doing manual labor or even having to drive around doing errands much.  But still... this Summer can not end soon enough for me! 

My favorite thing this week...
- On Monday, we had several rounds of exciting news come about.  Not sure how (or if) they'll pan out, but it's nice to have something to look forward to as a possibility.  I know that the Lord has great things in store for us, and catching little glimpses of those things are always wonderful!  Thank You, Jesus!

I'm praying for...
- Patience.  Being cooped up in the house with rowdy boys does a number on my nerves and often makes me a bit of a grumpy mama.  I want to be more easy-going, able to handle it better!

I'm grateful for...
- A Savior that forgives me and continues to love me no matter how many times I fail or doubt.

People we're seeing...
- My friend Melissa came over and brought her adorable daughter, Mila.  The boys had a blast playing with her.  It was nice to have some company and for the boys to have someone else to focus on, instead of driving each other (and me) crazy!
Playing together!
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P.S. While you're here, do you mind "liking" my Usborne FB Page?  Thank you!!!